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At X-Conference in Gaithersburg, Like Minds Discuss Intergalactic Politics
When California podiatric surgeon Roger Leir takes the microphone, the topic is extraterrestrial implants.
"How many of you have seen a UFO?" Leir asks the audience before showing video of alleged implant extraction surgery.
More than 100 people put up their hands.
"How many think you've been involved with the alien abduction program?"
Five hands go up.
"How many of you think you've been abducted and have never returned?"
There is laughter. There is also a sentiment of acceptance and adaptation. Once we get our act together, once we understand our own selves, the ETs will engage us, says Michael Salla, president and founder of the Hawaii-based nonprofit Exopolitics Institute, which offers an online semester in galactic diplomacy for a little more than $1,000.
"Humanity is still tribalistic, driven by elite interests rather than global ones," Salla says. "But with Barack Obama, for the first time in our planet's history, we have a global leader. It's a tremendous advance in our global society."
On the TV in the lobby of the hotel, Obama shakes hands with Hugo Chávez. Later, there's a CNN report on the disclosure of torture memos from Guantanamo Bay. These are good signs of open-minded diplomacy and government transparency, some conference attendees say. Plus, over the past year, the British government has released thousands of documents pertaining to UFOs, about 5 percent of which are truly inexplicable. The exopolitical movement was also encouraged by Obama's selection of John Podesta, noted champion of UFO disclosure, as his transition chairman. And Mitchell the astronaut is out in full force, saying the existence of ETs was confirmed to him 10 years ago by a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who subsequently denied it, but that's how these things go).
The ridicule is ebbing, conference attendees say. The exopolitical movement has gone grass roots; the education and outreach phase is underway. One man at the conference is collecting 4,000 signatures to put forth a ballot initiative for a Denver Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission. Another is calling upon the United Nations to create an "extraterrestrial civilizations liaison."
For Nick Pope, who was in charge of UFO investigations for Britain's Ministry of Defense in the early '90s, the bogies in the sky are simply a matter of national security.
"If we ignore UFOs because of the baggage that term has in people's minds -- because we don't believe in flying saucers -- it opens up a gap in our capacity to deal with these things," Pope says. "It's dangerous. We're ignoring a potential air-safety issue."
Exopolitics: It's about air-traffic control. It's about honest government. It's about self-empowerment and healthy living and bold declarations of reaching for the stars. Ask too many questions, though, and you'll see exopolitics is also about a race of humanoids who live under the barren surface of Mars and may, at some point, desire to mooch off Earth's rich resources.
Exopolitics "provides a conceptual framework for dealing with our highly populated universe," says author, lawyer and activist Alfred L. Webre, who coined the term 10 years ago and has watched it creep into the mainstream.
He also says the Martians are keeping to themselves for now.